An Abundance of Abundance

We humans tend to measure things by what is nearby. If my neighbors have homes bigger than mine….then mine must be small. Even if people in this location lived 5-10 humans to a room the size of my living room 100 years ago, or do so to this day, in another country.

My middle son says in high school his personality was label “Smart.” Even though, as he points out, “smart” is not a personality characteristic. Now, he goes to a college where most everybody is smart, an he says you can really see the flavors of personality that can be manifest in smart humans.

What I see in my own life (and those in my immediate surroundings) are people living lives rich and overflowing in abundance…but still focused on some small lack. I give you a few examples from this week. I would love it if you would add your own in the comments.

~ I am buying mostly raw ingredients, few carbs and eating only when I am hungry. I thought this would reduce my waist size as well as my grocery bill. So far only the grocery bill is affected. Still too much food.

~A co-worker, who paid for a vacation with the money from her recycled cans (Yeah! Recycling!) But still laments that there is not enough money. She drinks about 12 sodas per week. I calculate that 32 cans=1 pound = 0.50 cents. A 12 pack of Diet Coke is about $3.00. I figure she would save $2.50 just in money (not to mention time and health benefits) each week to forgo this habit. That’s $130 per year. I do not know how long she saved to pay for her vacation.

aluminum money

aluminum money

~ I recently met a woman (fairly organized) who kept her clothing in 18 gallon plastic tubs. She had them labeled, stacked, in her bedroom. There were twenty such tubs in her bedroom and about that many in the dining room. Some of the boxes had not been opened in a decade.

~Another person, I have known for decades reports that “small spaces make me claustrophobic.” She lives in a dwelling with 4,800 square feet. She mostly occupies two rooms with a footprint of 300 square feet. She assures me that to move to a smaller space would be difficult and traumatic for her.

~Another person, who requires public assistance for food and medications has 3 cats, 2 dogs and a pig in a cage (a pet–not planning on eating it, which would be more rational.) I wonder, does she need to give back?

~ Another person, spends more than $1,000 per month on eating out at restaurants. This person has many anxieties about money. Hmmmmm.

~Another person, has a home in this state. A home in a different state. A mobile home (RV), a boat, a golf cart, four cars for 2 people….one of which does not drive anymore.

All of the above persons are entitled to their different entertainments, their diversions…..up to the moment that they complain to me that they do not have enough time or money or….for what they want to spend their time on. But with all this abundance, or excess…..how do we find balance?

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16 responses to “An Abundance of Abundance

  1. This is the best post I’ve ever read! I’m 100% in agreement.

  2. I’m as guilty as some of the examples. I’m picky about my food, but I have a Starbucks Frappaccino with breakfast every. single. morning. There is an avocado rotting on my counter right now, but I’m too full to eat it because I preferred to eat some of the rotisserie chicken we brought back from Costco. ( I did utterly debone that chicken and make broth with veggie scraps from the freezer & the chicken smelled so utterly wonderful, but still…)

    I’m feeling so abundant because at age 73, I have just cut off 2 brothers who needed significant financial help for the past 3 years. One found a job and the other had become just a conduit to his addicted son. Suddenly I have “extra” at the end of the month – actually all month long.

    I’m going to “treat myself” for the rest of this month just because I can, and get back to my usual habits after this little splurge. I’m glad I saw your post because it made me look at what I was doing thoughtlessly. Now I will mindfully enjoy it as a temporary stay-cation. More fun that way. Thanks!

    • That is how I hoped the piece to be read. Not as a criticism of other’s delights, but a call to mindfulness to enjoy our abundance.

  3. Donna Isgriggs

    Really good thoughts.  I’m still searching for balance/peace and your writings have helped me , possibly more than any other.

  4. My parents spent the last 18 years or so running a pet rescue. It has been all consuming. They are retired professionals and this was what they chose for their retirement. The amount of work and money to keep it up was enormous. Finally, age started catching up with them and it got really hard. My sister and I begged them to let go and downsize their operation because the handwriting was on the wall. It was only a matter of time before we would have big time problems on our hands and neither of us could take over the amount of work involved. I have an 11 yr. old at home, a husband with major health issues, and I have to work full time, not to mention that I have rheumatoid arthritis. ( I didn’t mean to whine. Just explaining why I can’t be the savior of this deal, even though I love my parents.) They stubbornly refused to change a thing to adjust to the inevitability of aging. Well, my mom had a bad stroke. My dad has carried on but it has been really hard on everyone…and still no alternative arrangements can be made. Where is the balance or even the sanity for that matter? I thought this fit your scenarios.

    • Donna–what you describe is not an abundance of abundance. It is an abundance of need. Just want to make sure that you understand the difference.
      Everybody needs to know the difference between needs and wants. And everybody needs to know how to set limits.

      I am by nature a caregiver. But I have learned to set limits. Here are just a few of those that I have employed recently:
      1) I am at the sonogram center because I have a health issue. It IS NOT my job to provide emotional support for people who need it when I am a patient at the venue.
      2) 18 years of running a pet rescue is an awesome legacy. You know there are some 20 somethings out there that have a similar passion. They do not have to do it exactly the same as your folks…but they will find a way to help the little beasts. Let them do it!
      3) You have a husband, a daughter, a job, health issues. These are your priorities.
      4) Sanity first. Balance is a more sophisticated endeavor.

  5. Great post! Going off to think about where I’m frittering away my abundance…

  6. One of my condo neighbors told me she thinks about buying a house because she needs more space. She is single and lives in a two bedroom, two bathroom unit, so I couldn’t understand why she would need more space. Then I saw her home. It is so jam-packed with stuff and obviously the reason she thinks she needs more space – not for her, but for her stuff! If she would get rid of 75% of what her condo contains I have no doubt she would find she has plenty of space.

    • I have a coworker, a single woman in her 60s, who lives in a two bedroom unit and is thinking of buying a larger one for the same reason! I have made some suggestions however only she can decide what she really needs.

  7. I just loved reading this post. I get very frustrated by some of the scenarios — people who always focus on the lack will always get the lack. Once they focus on abundance, more abundance arrives — this has worked for me for the past couple of years. As for upsizing — I can relate to that. Once I retire, the sale of my condo will buy a nice bungalow in a smaller city just 40 minutes away from where I currently live. I had a very bad (and costly) experience with my condo board so no more condos (and for the $3960 condos fees, I can buy a really good snow plow and lawnmover and travel with the rest). With a house I’ll be able to put in a salt water pool (if I have to live in high humidity for 5 months a year, then I want a pool in the backyard); finally get my miniature cockapoo; and, become pretty much self-sufficient by being able to grow my own vegis and herbs. I have enough furniture without being cramped and don’t waste money on things I can make myself (tea kettle at work, bring my own breakfast and lunch, etc.) I too get frustrated when people complain about their lack of funds (or fill in the blank) yet waste so much of it on things that are unnecessary or overpriced.

  8. Thankyou for this post. I feel as though I am on the right path, and when I think I am ‘yearning’ for something more, a self check of ‘why would I actually need that?’ often rationalizes it. (bigger house for example). But it is hard when there is a culture of over-spending on ‘stuff’ with extended family members – they think they are doing my toddlers a favour by buying more and more stuff for them. chocolate, toys and colouring books at easter, you can only imagine what christmas and birthdays bring. It does my head in!

  9. Fawn, I have so much to be grateful for and a rich abundance of “things and stuff”. Some people are ” the glass half full” types and some are always “takers” and can never see beyond themselves. I have finally learned to run as fast as I can from their selfishness.

  10. I have a good example! I drink at least 1-2 coffees in coffee shops almost every weekday. I only drink black filter coffee, it is the one I prefer. Still where I live it is very expensive and I usually pay $4 or $5 a cup. At the end of the month, it costs me $100-120. This is the equivalent of about 1/4 of the grocery bills for the entire family.
    Because I enjoy it so much and because it just gives the start of my day a feeling of freedom and community I have decided it is worth it. Of course I could drink coffee at home instead but I see it as a kind of entertainment. So that’s ok.
    What is not ok though and where the pardoxe of abundance kicks in is that too much coffee does not do me any good. It makes my blood sugar swings. I would be much better off drinking tea. Yet for some reason, I not only take one cup but two!!!

  11. We are congaries of contradiction. Very good post. It’s so hard to really see ourselves sometimes.

  12. I remember a line from an Alice Walker poem: “Wrap the contradictions of your life around you like a shawl… “

  13. Oh, Marilyn–that quote really speaks to me just now.

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